>"Say, David, just what is it that you do? ;)"
I design the clean-ups of contaminated soil and groundwater. A ton of service stations throughout California when I was younger than any of us are now. As a senior engineer now, I mostly work on former Air Force Bases, railyards, etc, and other facilities with 2 to 7 million gallons of fuel floating on the groundwater.
In my mind, the idea billing hour is one spent on a conference call, with the cell phone on mute, calling out, "Hey Bear, I don't want to surprise you, bear!" as I hike up the hill on some Alaskan trail and occasionally chiming in on the discussion.
Anyway, back to WWII: The Germans, who were arguable better chemists, got all occupied trying to make liquid fuels from coal and tasked how to kill 6 million Jews. While American ChemE's sat around in their un-bombed offices, with a continent worth of natural resources, and added various steps to the refining process to make very high-octane aviation gasoline. As a result, the P-51 and other planes could have very high-compression, high-effiency engines, and MUCH longer range than pistion-engine planes on the German side. It was what enabled the bombing campaign against Germany because the long-range bombers could then have fighter escorts for the whole run.
At least, that's what the ChemE profs at UC Berkeley told us.